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Since starting Weapons of War I've profiled a number of World War II anti-tank or anti-material rifles, usually beasts of weight, size and power. Not truly anti-tank calibers by the late war, more effective against soft-skinned vehicles or lightly, these weapons were essentially oversized shoulder fired weapons. Germany fielded one such anti-tank rifle, the Panzerbuchse 39.

Chambered in 7.92 x 94mm the hefty rifle pushed a bullet at a blistering 3,540 feet per second, the first sign of effectiveness. However, if the wrong bullet type goes downrange, it doesn't mean the target will be destroyed or incapacitated. Initially the P.z.B. 39 fired a hardened steel core bullet with a small tear gas capsule seated in the rear of the bullet. When the round penetrated the tank the tear gas capsule was supposed to break and force out the crew. The idea was overly complicated and didn't work so well. So after 1940, based on a Polish design, Germany introduced a tungsten cored penetrator that increased its effectiveness. At 300 yards the 7.92mm tungsten round could penetrate one inch of armor, with increasing penetration rates at closer ranges.

Weighing in at 27 lbs the P.z.B. 39 was a single shot rifle with a folding stock that cut down the length from just 60 inches to 42 inches. Being a single shot weapon, the rifle was outfitted with a pair of removal ten-round ammunition carriers to improve the speed of reloading. 

Firing the P.z.B. 39  was achieved not by rotating out a traditional bolt-action assembly, but rather titling the pistol grip. A dropping block breach layout mean the pistol and trigger assembly acted as the bolt unlock mechanism. The grip was pulled down and forward, dropping the breach block and exposing the chamber. A fresh round was inserted, grip tilted up, raising the blocking and fully seating the round before the grip locked into place.

Allied testing of captured rifles showed it was almost an easy firing weapon, due to its weight absorbing much of the felt recoil.

To give another example of scale and improved portability of the folding stock P.z.B. 39 the above photo shows the rifle mounted for transport on a Germany field bike of the period. As armor technology advanced rapidly through the conlfict, the P.z.B. 39 was outdated by the end of the war and most examples were converted to grenade launchers.

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Tags: Weapons of War, anti-tank rifle, germany, rifle, weapon, wwii

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Comment by Dan G. on May 5, 2012 at 12:15pm

A ~ Tear Gas ~ bullet. Like the round bouncing around inside the tin-can wasn't enough? Still, an interesting idea!

And I love the shot of it strapped to the bike! Would certainly deter tailgaters! LOL

Another Great article! THANKS!

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